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Alexandra Miller, consultant01/23/2023

NeighborWorks America's Shared Equity Initiative offers resources and insights for community-based organizations working to implement shared equity on the ground. NeighborWorks is dedicated to a people-based, place-based and asset-based approach; no single pathway is going to work for every organization. Our resources illuminate the options that are available to every organization to be an implementer or a partner for shared equity housing. 

Ground shared equity in your community's needs 

Planning map of a shared equity housing developmentShared equity can work in rural, suburban and urban communities, though the models that work best for each area may vary. For example, a rural community might benefit from converting manufactured housing parks to resident-owned communities, while an urban organization might seek to create a community land trust to preserve affordability in an area where values are rising quickly. 

In many places, neighborhood organizations and grassroots groups are already researching methods to retain affordability due to rapidly increasing values that have put homeownership out of reach. Experienced community developers can create partnerships that build on this momentum and empower communities to take control of their future. 

Engage residents and partners 

Any new or growing shared equity program needs buy-in at the community level and the stakeholder level. Community buy-in comes from engaging individual residents as well as community-based organizations and partners. In some cases, the momentum for a shared equity program may emerge from a community-based organization that needs partnership with an experienced community developer. In other cases, community developers need to shepherd engagement with local community-based organizations and residents to build trust and understanding around shared equity implementation. Stakeholder buy-in emerges from education and partnership with local funders, lenders, real estate agents and appraisers as well as other industry partners. Funders may include local and state governments, health care institutions, philanthropic organizations and others; their support will secure the initial subsidy required for shared equity units. Lenders willing to provide shared equity mortgages are also critical to move projects forward. 

Build your capacity with resources and peer learning 

NeighborWorks America and other national shared equity organizations like Grounded Solutions Network offer resources that can benefit organizations at every level of capacity. 

Innovate and scale your work 

A hispanic couple stands in front of the kitchen of their new shared equity homeNeighborWorks' Shared Equity Initiative funded experienced shared equity organizations to take new approaches and scale up their shared equity work. Other longstanding shared equity programs may wish to explore these opportunities. Some of the ideas include: 

Preservation of affordable homeownership in an urban context. Some homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure cannot access traditional sources of financing to preserve their homes. These are often very low-income households who have additional complications, such as divorce or medical issues, as well as deferred maintenance on their homes. 

Two NeighborWorks grantees, NeighborWorks Home Partners and City of Lakes Community Land Trust, developed a program that enables these owners to place their home into a community land trust in return for additional subsidy to bring their mortgage costs down; refinancing of their mortgage; and providing all needed home repairs. The program includes substantial counseling, including consultations with an attorney, to ensure the homeowners understand the implications of placing their home in the CLT. It also includes deep ongoing social supports to help the owners remain in the home. 

Preservation of affordable homeownership in a rural context. Grantees such as NeighborWorks Montana focused on creating financial resources to turn manufactured housing parks into resident-owned communities. Private equity investors have increasingly been purchasing manufactured housing and drastically increasing lot rents, leaving the homeowners with increased costs and very few alternative options. To prevent this, NeighborWorks Montana works to help residents purchase their communities, upgrade the infrastructure and homes, and institute resident governance models. 

Improving access to capital for shared equity development. Most of the innovation grants, including the two previously mentioned, involve creating new opportunities to finance shared equity development and/or preservation. Another innovation grantee, Asian Americans for Equality, Inc., focused on improving capital access for limited-equity cooperatives in order to help renters purchase their apartment buildings in New York City's Chinatown. NeighborWorks Montana has also begun work on a similar initiative for small-scale apartment buildings. 

Next Steps in the Shared Equity Initiative 

NeighborWorks remains fully committed to the Shared Equity Initiative and will work to keep building capacity and resources in the community development field. Our full paper, Advancing the Promise of Shared Equity Models, provides a more detailed look at the first three years of the initiative's work from 2019-2021 and an overview of what we hope to achieve moving forward. To date, we have received an additional $5 million appropriation from Congress to continue and expand this work through 2024. Most recently, we added production grants that directly invest in the development of shared equity homes as we continue to seek partnerships and opportunities to increase our impact. 

Learn more about the impact of shared equity housing models: 


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